Lesson plan


Make an instrument to understand what sound is, then experiment with changing the pitch of a sound, and hearing sound through solids.
Science content
Biology: Sensing, Organ Systems (4, 5, 6)
Physics: Light and Sound (1)
  • materials listed in the activities
  • musical instrument to demonstrate how pitch changes

Introduce the concept of sound with students making their own musical instrument: Sound Sandwich activity. Ask them to use careful observation and familiar objects to copy the model and make their own.

Sing a song as a group, using the sound sandwiches to play some of the parts.

Ask students, then discuss how the sound is made: the vibrating elastic band bumps against the molecules in the air, which bump each other along. This vibration of molecules travels through the air to our ear. In our ear the vibration is converted to a signal that is sent to our brain.

Model how sound travels with the Sound Vibration Model.

Sound with a Ruler activity, for students to explore pitch, and to introduce the concept of vibration frequency.

Play a Musical instrument to demonstrate how pitch can be changed by changing the length of a string/tube, which changes the vibration frequency along it. Discuss other instruments that students play and how the pitch changes in them.
Optional: sing a class song using an instrument (e.g. guitar, uke). Students can accompany with their noise makers.

Finish by exploring sound through solids with the Sound through solids activity.


Shaughnessy did sound sandwich, sound vibration model, sound through string while I circulated with hearing through bone.

Note that the constant noise of this class builds the energy level of the students quite dramatically. Sound through string keeps things a bit less hectic as students' ears are blocked.
Ruler vibrations too subtle/complex for younger grades - maybe switch out with elastic band sounds where they can see the vibration.
Stuff to try: http://science-notebook.com/sound01.html

Grades taught
Gr 1
Gr 4
Gr 5
Teaching Site
Carnarvon Elementary
Kerrisdale Annex Elementary
Selkirk Elementary
Shaughnessy Elementary